New approach means Hertfordshire and west Essex health and care organisations are braced for winter

As temperatures start to dip and the nights draw in, health and care organisations across the whole of Hertfordshire and west Essex are planning for winter together for the first time. 

Representatives from the East of England ambulance service, Hertfordshire and Essex county councils, the area’s three acute hospitals (Lister Hospital, Watford General and Princess Alexandra), clinical commissioners, mental health trusts and NHS 111 recently gathered to discuss how they would work more closely together than ever this winter.    

Beverley Flowers, Chief Executive for East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, who is leading on urgent and emergency care for the Hertfordshire and west Essex STP, commented:

“Every winter, the health and care needs of the population place increasing demands on services which are already under pressure.  By working together as a partnership across the whole of Hertfordshire and west Essex, we are doing all we can to ensure that people get the help they need, when they need it.

“For the first time, we have a single winter health plan, designed to increase the resilience of essential services, anticipate issues that might arise and plan the way that health and care services will be delivered during this busy period.  By encouraging our hospitals and care services to work together through a mutual aid agreement and rolling out a live information ‘dashboard’* to help flag-up pressure points in the system, we aim to provide high-quality services that our 1.5 million population can rely on.

“We heard about plans to encourage all front line staff to have flu jabs as well as communication strategies to help the most vulnerable. We want all our population, especially older people, to get early help if they start to feel unwell.

“There will be a range of campaigns running over the next few months to help people make informed choices about which service to use in the first instance to get the health and care they need.  People can ‘Help us Help you’ by using NHS 111, pharmacies or the new GP extended access appointments wherever possible.”

Interactive presentations were given by NHS England and the East of England Ambulance Trust and workshop-style discussions took place on how system-wide working could help improve the service for patients as they are treated, admitted or discharged from hospital during the winter months.

Through the Hertfordshire and west Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), NHS and social care organisations are working more closely than ever before to deliver more effective, joined-up and affordable services. 

* The new ‘dashboard’ developed by the STP technology workstream and funded by NHS England brings together information about the three urgent and emergency systems in our area. It will display urgent care information, such as ambulance handover times and A&E waits, in as near ‘real time’ as possible. This will help staff across the whole of Hertfordshire and west Essex to quickly identify pressures and work together to take prompt action, heading-off problems at an early stage. 

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